We gathered outside for some fresh air around midnight. Exhausted from the rush but grateful for our tips, we enjoyed the cool breeze and a well deserved cocktail. The restaurant was always busy on Saturday nights but because of Gay Pride, the place was crazier than ever.
There were five of us, me being the only straight one. We sipped our drinks and shared stories, a lovely way to end a busy night’s work.I don’t remember how many there were in the car, or even what kind of car it was. I just remember feeling their hatred as they whipped raw eggs at us from the street. The light turned green and they were off. I was baffled, thinking how random the attack was. Then one of my friends spoke as he wiped the yolk dripping down the front of his oxford shirt.
“This is what we go through every Pride.”
My head shaking, I extended my arms. We stood there, holding each other in front of the restaurant, and neither one of us said a word.
What can you say about bullies and bigotry that hasn’t already been cried out from every gay person you know? As a straight gal, I knew the best thing I could do in that situation was to just give my unconditional love – the same way my gay friends have given it to me.
The first gay person I met was in the 7th grade. Fred was smart, kind and a lot of fun to hang out with. Before I really understood what being gay was, I knew he was different from the other boys and I felt protective of him. I didn’t like anyone being picked on and, as a white girl growing up in Hawaii, could relate to feelings of not fitting in.
By the time I was in High School I stood out even more. Diagnosed with a serious skin disease, I suffered severe scarring over 80% of my face and was bullied right along with the gay kids. Although the exact reasons were different, we were still mercilessly picked on.
As the years went on my compassion for the gay community grew and I always felt safe in their company.
I Swish because I know of no other way. I Swish because I believe in compassion.
Karen Armstrong says it best:
It is necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity.
I Swish with the hope that one day, there will be no need to. People of all backgrounds and orientations will live as one. Until that day, I wave my Swish flag proudly and invite others to do the same.